Stables of Como – Historical Country Style Cafe

panda 3.5 rating

The ICKE and IGBY group – who are behind the popular Friends of Mine (Richmond), the great Snow Pony (Balwyn) and one of my favourites Porgie and Mr Jones (Hawthorn) – have opened up a café in the former stables building in the heritage listed and historic Como House – called Stables of Como, located in Toorak.

The Stables of Como café is located at the rear of the main Como House building and is situated in a secluded courtyard area and reminds you of visiting a farmhouse. The aim was a country house style chic with a rustic charm and from the moment you step foot inside you realise this brief has definitely been met. Stables is very popular and usually there is a wait for a table, the atmosphere inside is lively and fun – you can tell people just genuinely enjoy being here.

The theme is white, green and wooden – from the 6 metre long rustic counter which houses sweets, cakes and slices of almost every type and variety – to the tables, lights and coffee machine! Back to the counter of sweetness – there are things such as Raspberry and Pistachio Tea Cakes, Christmas Mince Pies, Honey Joys, Lamingtons, Giant Freckles, Choco Crackles and soooo much more!! They provide not only a colourful but enticing look complete with flowers and greenery, that you are almost tempted to skip eating a proper meal and just ask for one of each. There is also an option of high tea available as well as picnic baskets to take out into the gardens and enjoys. There are even rugs and Frisbees included! How awesome is that!

There is a homely feel attached to the Stables, it looks like a cross between a country kitchen and an olden day tearoom, with modern accents along the way.

The menu is from Jason Flygenring and covers the basics such as Toasted English Muffins, Bircher Muesli, Granola, Toast and Egg anyway you like it. There are also Crumpets available however they aren’t made in house and seem to be store bought. Most of the produce comes from the venues very own garden – there are chickens that lay the eggs that are used in the egg dishes! There are Stables Staples such as Smashed avocado, Toasted banana bread, Three egg omelette and Gardeners Breakfast which their take on the Big Breakfast.

The Lunch menu consists of Toasted Piadini – Honey roasted pumpkin and Prroscuitto, Baguettes – Ham as well as roasted veggies and Sourdough Sandwiches – Poached chicken and rare porterhouse beef are options. There are also smaller dishes such as Bruschetta, Soup, Smoked Salmon and Quiches as well as Main plates which include Lamb Loin, Tuna Nicoise and a CapeGrim fillet minute steak.

As mentioned before there is High tea (Devonshire Tea) available and the cost is $15 per person – and you get the famous Aggie’s lemonade scones, tea or coffee and you get to select one Jill Cross chocolate truffles to finish.

To start off with I order a vanilla bean milkshake and A orders an OJ. The milk shake comes out in a metal cup with extra milk on the side if you want to dilute the milkshake. The syrups are made in house and the milkshake was delicious and you could taste the freshness of the vanilla bean. Just what was needed on this warm morning. A’s OJ came served in a brown glass bottle with a straw and was fresj;u squeezed.

For food I decided to go with the Smashed Avocado with thyme buttered mushrooms, marinated feta and torn basil on wholegrain toast.  The dish came out with the toast acting as the base, with the avocado placed on top, followed by the thyme buttered mushrooms and topped with a poached egg (this was an addition I made) and finished with the feta and basil sprinkled around. The combination of all these ingredients was really good – the flavours were perfectly balanced and the mushrooms were fresh. My only gripe was that the toast was a tad bit hard. The feta was creamy and tangy and worked well with the basil and avocado.

A had the eggs from happy chickens folded with herbs and served on toasted, buttered ciabatta.  I loved who the omelette looked when it came out – the way in which it was cooked it resembled a rose or flower, with the herbs sprinkled on top. A dish that not only looked great but tasted the same.

The staff are generally friendly and knowledgeable, although the first waitress we had seemed kind of lost and had to take our order twice as she didn’t get it the first time.

I do have one gripe though – the very first time I went to eat at Stables was with my family for my sister’s birthday, and we arrived on a Sunday at 9:30am only to find that it was opened at 10am. My sister had to go to work by 1pm, so we would need to have left by 12pm at the latest. We were located at the main entrance which required us to walk thru the gardens to get to to the cafe, and this entrance was opened at 10:10am and by the time we got to putting our names down for a table of 4, the list was quite long, as the side entrance to where the cafe is situated had been opened at 10am. I do understand that there is a list that people put their names down for, and I explained to the girl at the front that we would need to be out by 12pm at the latest and she said she would wait and see the best that they could do. I also explained that we were here at 9:30am and we were at the main entrance which was clearly opened much later than the side entrance, but she really wasn’t listening. There were many tables of 2 going at a rapid pace, but after an hour of waiting and seeing lots of sets of 2’s we had to leave. It was really disappointing and I guess that is why it has taken me so long to actually come back and give this place a try. I get that busy café’s have a process that they follow, but I have seen other café’s be accommodating in circumstances like this, and Stables just wasn’t.

So just to note my rating that I have given is to do with the food, venue and atmosphere of the place, and not really for service.

Overall, Stables is a great addition to the historic Como House Building and I do love that they allowed people to have access to this beautiful site. The Picnic Basket idea is a wonderful idea and I think I will come back to try it out – along with more of the sweets!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – There is a Breakfast menu served all day, a Lunch Menu and an Afternoon Tea Menu as well as a High Tea Menu which can be found at http://www.thestablesofcomo.com.au/#!menu/ckiy
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Cosy and makes you feel at home. Great for a summery day to sit outside.
Standout Dish: Any of the sweets that are located on the 6 metre long rustic counter!
Service: Friendly and Knowledgeable in general, but had a pretty bad experience the first time I went there.
Online Booking: No. There are generally queues on most days. 
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.thestablesofcomo.com.au/#!home/mainPage
Corner Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 6886

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

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Epocha – Tasty & Wholesome Food!

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halal (1)(ONLY THE CHICKEN IS HALAL)

Epocha which means ‘a new or distinctive era’ in a variety of European languages is a newly opened restaurant in Rathdowne Street, Carlton. It is located in the stunning heritage listed Victorian terrace which overlooks Carlton Gardens. And as owner Angie Giannakodakis, researched and discovered that it was commissioned by gentlewoman Hannah Mabel in 1884 – and the upstairs bar pays homage to her and is aptly called Hannah’s Bar.

Epocha is European inspired restaurant and bar brought to you by Angie Giannakodakis (former front-of-house manager The Press Club) together with business partner Guy Holder. The head chef is Mick Bolam who is the former head chef of Restaurant Sanctuary at Peppers in the Hunter Valley. The main focus of Epocha is around its main philosophy – sharing tasty and wholesome food. It is home style food that pays tribute to its European traditions with touches of Greek, English and French influences (such as the charcuterie and cheeses).

As you walk up the stairs to the terrace house entrance you know that you are about to expect something that you will be awe of – and you wont be disappointed. A elegant and rustic dining room welcomes you complete with wooden floors (that are creaky for authenticity), low hanging lights, dark wooden furniture with a colourful tiled table top, a huge old school style clock on the wall and homely olive green chairs. It really has a homely feel to it and you know you are in good hands as the service is impeccable, warm and welcoming – you just fit right in.

In addition to the main downstairs dining area, there is an upstairs area / function room with a balcony – this is Hannah’s Bar. You can come here for casual drinks as well as play games of backgammon.

We were seating in the downstairs dining area and the first thing that caught my idea was a wooden trolley which had a variety of cheeses as well as desserts on offer. What also caught my eye on the trolley was the wooden frame which housed honeycomb and honey. Such a great idea which once again makes it feel more homely. The menu is split into different sections such as snacks, small shares, large shares, accompaniments, dessert & cheese. There is also a sharing menu which is $68 per person where the Chef will pick what dishes your table gets. We decided to pick some dishes from each of the snacks, small shares, large shares and accompaniments. The waitress was helpful in letting us know if she thought we had ordered too many dishes, and assisted us in choosing our dishes as well.

Whilst we waited for our food we were given warm bread which comes in a knotted cloth bag which is something different. The bread (rye and caraway seed) was freshly made, soft and delicious. I got an oyster to start off with – fresh and tasty. We also got Mushroom Aranchini and Jamon, Fior Di Latte Croquettes to start off with. The Mushroom Aranchini was crumbed and crunchy on the outside and the filling on the inside was perfectly seasoned, and the mushrooms were moist and tasty. My friends did enjoy the Jamon Croquettes as well, and they were on the large side so that was an added bonus. We also got the Spiced Chickpea and Bread Crisps. The spiced chickpea was quite tasty and had a great balance of tanginess and spice. I loved the addition of the bread crisps – I enjoyed the crunchiness against the chickpea dip.

Some of the smaller share dishes that we selected were – Spring Asparagus with Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Tarragon and the Baby Carrots, Honey, Goat’s Curd, Sesame, Beetroot and Skate, Caper, Lemon, Parsley, Fava and lastly the Confit Duck Leg, Peas, Lettuce. The asparagus dish was a very different and interesting dish  – the asparagus was simply sautéed and absorbed the flavours of the tarragon, the hens egg was perfectly cooked and once you cracked it open the yolk oozed out and served as an additional sauce for the asparagus. The flavour combination was a mash of flavours that worked.

The Beetroot and Honey dish was my favourite dish and to this day I talk about it. I LOVED IT. The honey together with the goats curd was a great mix and was delicious – add in the sweetness and softness of the beetroot and carrots and you truly have a memorable dish. Highly recommended.

Skate is a type of large marine fish and this dish came with capers, lemon and fava – which is a type of bean. The sauce was tangy and creamy all at the same time. The skate was cooked fantastically and was still moist and mild in flavour. You really did need the addition of the capers and the sauce to really make the dish and make them it did. Another really tasty dish.

Once we had finished our snacks and smaller share dishes, it time for the larger shares. First up we got the Bird – which consisted of the breast, wing, thigh and leg. Crispy and crackly on the outside, moist and simply seasoned on the inside. This dish was served with a swig of rosemary. The whole fish that we got was Flounder – this came with Fruit Rub, Dill, Lemon and Salsa Verde. The dish comes out to the table as a whole fish and then we get to watch our waitress de-bone the entire fish for us. It’s a great process to watch as they seem to glide through the process – I could never do it with such ease. The fish is buttery and cooked amazingly, the salsa verde and fruit rub give it a mix of tangy and sweetness – you could add lemon if you needed an additional tang. We did order another larger dish but it was never brought out – and we were actually alright with that anyway as we were all so full and still had dessert to go.

Dessert time meant that the trolley was wheeled over to us for us to decide – they all cost $12. We settled on getting one of each dessert – Crème brulee, Chocolate Gateau, Tiramasu and Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli. The Crème brulee was smooth, sweet and small with a delicious crackling on top. The Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli was crunchy and the pastry was delicious – the lemon filling was buttery, sharp and strong all at the same time. The tiramisu ( I couldn’t have this as it had lots of alcohol in it) was quite alcohol filled as my friends told me but delicious nonetheless. The Chocolate Gateau was a clear winner – from the brownie bass to the centre chocolate mousse filling and topped off with a ganache chocolate topping. It looked as rich as it sounds but was such a great way to finish a fantastic meal.

Epocha is a fantastic place that everyone should definitely check it out – be it for a casual drink upstairs or if its a meal at the dining room downstairs. The atmosphere is homely, welcoming and quaint and the service is one of the best that I have experienced in Melbourne. There is antique silverware, vintage cutlery and crockery, colorful table tops, wooden creaky floors all which add to its uniqueness. There is also an international wine selection and the staff are happy to assist in getting you the right selection. If there is one place that should be on your list of places to try out it should be EPOCHA.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Dinner Menu – can be found at http://epocha.com.au/pdf/Epocha-Menu.pdf
On Sundays there is a four course menu available for a Family Sunday priced at $45 pp
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Baby Carrots, Honey, Goats Curd, Seasame, Beetroot (this is my new fave salad – IT’S THAT GOOD!!)
Service: Fantastic and Attentive and Friendly. We asked our waitress quite a bit of questions and she answered all of them and if she didn’t know the answer, she found out. They are also very inviting and hospitable. All round great service!
Online Booking: They are currently updating their website so it is best to call or email at eat@epocha.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://epocha.com.au/
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Tel No: 9036 4949

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Lunch
Tuesday to Saturday: From 12pm
Dinner
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late
Sunday Roast Lunch: 12pm to 4pm

Hannah’s Bar
Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm to Late

Epocha on Urbanspoon

The Grain Store – Honest Cooking!

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It had been a while since a couple of the girls from work had caught up for lunch and I picked The Grain Store as the venue. I had heard about the place and heard about the healthy and fresh … Continue reading

Captain Melville – Melbourne’s Oldest Pub

panda-3-5-rating1

For one of my regular dinner catch-ups with A, I picked Captain Melville. I had read about this place and was keen to check it out for my self. Captain Melville is located in one of Melbourne’s oldest pubs (back from 1853) and was originally called Mac’s Hotel. Located on Franklin Street and what used to house the former Miss Libertine, the team of Paul Scanlan, Alan Sam and Roshan Nijar have created this new “bushranger” vibe pub restaurant. The name iteslf, Captain Melville is named after Francis McCallum – a legendary bushranger himself.

Captain Melville has been refitted by Breathe Architects together with the National Trust in order to keep this heritage listed building in tact. As you walk into the large wooden doors (wood is massive theme at this venue) there is a casual front bar area and banquette style seating. As you walk towards the back there is a large communal dining hall which is decorated with steel tent structures and olive trees (and the original bluestone brick) to create a modern take on the Gold Rush era. I loved the rustic feel to the place and the quotes that are placed around the venue. It really does feel like back in the day.

Captain Melville offers a communal dining experience complete with share plates, steaks, snacks and pub food with a menu designed by chef Shayne McCallum. To start off with the ingredients sourced from sustainable Victorian farms and producers in the regions.

I had looked at the menu online before coming to the restaurant so I knew what I wanted for my main. As I was there with A, we decided to get two share dishes to start off with and went with the Salt & Pepper Squid and the Quinoa Salad. The Salt & Pepper Squid is one of the best that I have ever had. The squid was fresh and perfectly seasoned, and the batter had a delicious crunch to it. To top it off the Black Garlic Aioli was absolutely delicious. It worked so well with the battered squid. This is a definite must try (my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it..yes it was that good!) The Quinoa Salad with Beetroot, White Zucchini, Pomegranate, Shanklish, Honey Yoghurt was another stand out dish. The combination of the shanklish and honey yoghurt and the pop of juiciness and tang from the pomegranate was delicious. The addition of the beetroot further exemplified the dish.

For my main I ordered the Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi, Heirloom Tomatoes, Dried Olives and Parmesan and A ordered the James Squire Golden Ale Battered Flake, Salad, Hand Cut Chips. My Gnocchi came out beautifully presented and was quite a colourful dish – set amongst the background of a black plate, the heirloom tomatoes and Parmesan lit up the plate. The Gnocchi was soft and perfectly made and the flavours worked well together, albeit I could have used with a bit more salt and pepper. A didn’t really rate her Fish and Chips and thought the Hand Cut Chips could have tasted better and been a bit more crunchy. The serving size however was quite generous.

Next up was dessert! The Australian theme is quite evident through the menu from the Australian classic – Lamington as well as using Anzac biscuits in the Chocolate Mousse Dish. A ordered the Chocolate Mousse, Anzac Biscuit, Chocolate Sponge, Meringue and I ordered the Frozen Lamington  – Coconut Parfait, Chocolate, Raspberry. Between these two dishes the Lamington was the clear winner. The Lamington was served frozen and teamed with chocolate and raspberry – it was delicious and creamy and somewhat reminded me of an ice cream cake. The Chocolate Mousse was rich and smooth and the meringue tied this dish together, however as a whole although beautifully presented the flavours were a bit of a let down.

Overall, Captain Melville is a fantastic place to check out. They are known for their cocktails and drinks as well and I want to come back and see what they can do in the form of mocktails. There are also other items on the menu that I do want to try out like Wild Mushroom share dish and the Soft Shell Crab roll.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu –A selection of single dishes, shared dishes, larger dishes, a selection of steaks and desserts – Check the menu out at http://www.captainmelville.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Comfortable. There is plenty of room for a big function or even after work drinks
Standout Dish: Salt & Pepper Squid, Black Garlic Aioli
Service: Fantastic, attentive and super friendly
Online Booking: No, but you can contact them to make bookings
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.captainmelville.com.au/
34 Franklin Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 6855

Opening Hours:
Kitchen                                                                            Bar
Monday-Wednesday: 11am – 11pm                         Monday to Tuesday: 11am – 12am
Thursday: 11am – 12am                                                Wednesday: 11am – 1am
Friday: 11am – 2am                                                        Thursday: 11am – 2am
Saturday: 12pm – 2am                                                  Friday: 11am – 3am
Sunday: 12pm – 8pm                                                     Saturday: 12pm – 3am
Sunday: 12apm – 12am

Captain Melville on Urbanspoon

Lux Foundry – Relaxed and Friendly



Fresh Mango and Passionfruit Juice and a Chai Latte

Crispy Poached Eggs on Sourdough with Chilli Caramel Jam and Coriander

Sunshine Fruit Salad with Almonds and Yoghurt

Coconut Crusted French Toast with Expresso Mascapone, Berry Compote, Torrone and Organic Canadian Maple

I had my first visit to Lux Foundry on the weekend and I loved it. Lux Foundry is located in the side-streets of Brunswick and is located in an old heritage listed buillding,  an old stove foundry.  The decor stays true to its factory beginning and retains some of its industrial elements and has an exposed brick wall and the oringial factory floors, mixed with modern elements. There is both seating inside for the cooler days, as well as boasting a huge outdoor area amongst a small herb garden, with umbrellas for that warm summery day.

Their fresh juices were refreshing and tasty. They had other combinations available as well. The Chai Latte was one of the best  I have had and came out with a design. Usually Chai Latte’s never get a design, so this was a nice addition (shows the extra detail they go to).

Looking at their menu I wanted to try out many of the dishes. Their menu is divided into different categories – Something Small, The Usual Suspects and Something Different, as well as a Lunch selection. The Usual Suspects are the normal big breakkies, and the bacon and egg types, the Something Different is what makes this place unique. They have a vast variety and as you read each combination, you find yourself saying yes to each and every dish. I settled on the Crispy Poached Eggs AND the Coconut Crusted French Toast (see I really did want to try everything on their menu =p).
The poached eggs had the right amount of ooziness and the crust on the outside was flavoursome and teamed with the caramel chilli jam tasted great. However, I would have liked an addition of maybe avocado,  lime or basil dressing for completeness. The French Toast was one of the best I have had. The Expresso Mascapone was delicious and really offset the sweetness of the berry compote and the maple syrup. The French Toast was cooked perfectly and had just the right amount of crunch. My friend who I was brunching with had to order a serve for herself as well after trying some of mine. THAT GOOD!

The service is fantastic and super friendly. They were very patient when they had to keep coming back to take our order because we weren’t ready. I will definitely be back and would recommend this place as my new favourite brunch place.

Note: You can also have private functions for up to 90 people. For more info go to: http://www.luxfoundry.com.au/catering-and-functions-brunswick.php

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast and Lunch Menu – http://www.luxfoundry.com.au/lux-foundry-menu-and-wine-list.php
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Fun
Standout Dish: Coconut Crusted French Toast with Expresso Mascapone, Berry Compote, Torrone and Organic Canadian Maple
Service: Friendly,Cheerful and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.luxfoundry.com.au/
21 Hope Street, Brunswick
Tel No: 9387 8075

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7.30am -4.00pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8.00am – 5.00pm

Lux Foundry on Urbanspoon